For the 911 Central Dispatch Center to communicate more effectively to the 36 agencies it serves, a set of policies and procedures for dispatchers needs to be developed said the board of the Tucumcari/Quay Central Dispatch Center.
“We’re here to set directives,” said Tucumcari Police Chief Roger Hatcher, a member of the board.
The board met Friday to discuss dispatch practices after a teletype bulletin about the recent escape of prisoners in Clovis was not sent in a timely manner to the Quay County Sheriff’s Office. Quay County Commission board chairman Franklin McCasland complained at last week’s Tucumcari City Commission meeting that information was not getting to the Sheriff’s Office.
City, Quay County, and othercountywide safety and law enforcement officials at the board meeting agreed that getting priorities from other agencies and including them in a new set of procedures was the best way to prevent mistakes.
Central Dispatch is housed at the Tucumcari Police Department and has been managed by TPD chiefs, including Hatcher.
Tucumcari City Manager John Sutherland said the board should take more responsibility for the operation of the center which is funded through a joint powers agreement between the city and county.
Hatcher also said he would like to move the Central Dispatch operations from the TPD building.
There can be a perception that central gives TPD preferential treatment, Hatcher said.
Sutherland agreed and suggested that dispatch could be moved in the future to the Chamber of Commerce building on Route 66.
But a more pressing problem is hiring more dispatchers and paying them, board members said.
Current dispatchers have about one year of experience, and there are only five dispatchers and one dispatch manager to work 24/7, Hatcher said. And one dispatch position needs to be filled.
When there are only six dispatchers, it is hard to take one off duty for training, Hatcher said.
The board also needs to find a way to hire additional dispatchers and to pay them more, Hatcher said.
Dispatchers are hired at a salary of $7.76 per hour and when they become certified through training they earn $8.53, said Central Dispatch manager Cindy Brashear.
Central dispatch serves 36 different agencies in an area that covers Quay and Harding counties and parts of San Miguel County.
“It’s one of the largest PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) areas in the state,” Hatcher said
Logan Police Chief Bob Gore, a member of the board, stressed that there should be two dispatchers on duty per shift to handle calls.
“We have to work at paying more and getting more dispatchers hired,” Gore said. “There is a lot of stress in the job ... It takes a special person to do the job.”
The next meeting of the board will be at 10 a.m. on Sept. 19.